Stage 2 at the Larry H Miller Tour of Utah was supposed to be a fast stage for the sprinters that was supposed to be quiet for the GC contenders. While it did finish in a sprint, the winner Jack Bauer (Endura Racing) surprised all by launching early and before that, the field was split under attacks and the yellow jersey Sergio Henao (Gobernacion Indeportes Antiquioa) had to close down gaps.
Act 1: The early break
Seven riders escaped after a flurry of attacks at around 12 miles (20-km) into the 99-mile stage that followed Utah Lake. The move included Philip Deignan (Radioshack), Hayden Roulston (HTC-Highroad), Will Duggan (Team Type 1), François Parisien (Spidertech), Paddy Bevin (Bissell) and Roman Van Uden (Pure Black Racing).
Van Uden. “Definitely yesterday hurt me a lot but I was pretty thankful that it was relatively flat. We worked hard at the start of the race to get an early breakaway going, I was lucky enough to work hard and slip into it with about 20 kilometer into the race. We had a good time gap at 50 kilometer but hit a headwind, started getting reeled in. I picked up the first sprint after 64 kilometers but some teams started riding pretty solidly in the front, before the Southern-most point of the course. I was pretty disappointed to come back into the bunch and not make it to at least the second sprint to get a pretty good lead.”
The seven worked well together while behind the field controlled the gap which hovered at 2 minutes by the first sprint point taken by Van Uden ahead of Duggan and Acevedo.
Act 2: The Feedzone attack
The speed ramped closing down the gap to one minute by the feedzone. Francisco Mancebo (RealCyclist) reportedly attacked in the feedzone, splitting the field with Henao missing the split. The beark was doomed and reeled in by the attack.
Jeff Louder (BMC) “Mancebo split the group in the feedzone, everyone got on his wheel and he didn’t stop and he chased the breakaway back. So then he caught the breakaway and then (Chad) Beyer attacked and went solo. He was out there, at the far point of the course, through the corners, there were more attacks and big group split off. I had the fortune to jump to at the last minute and it was probably almost 40 guys. It caught out the yellow jersey and it caught out Levi (Leipheimer) but they had (Oscar) Sevilla and they had Jani (Brajkovic) and Tejay (van Garderen) was there. Tejay put his guys on the front and then when Chad was caught, I had him ride as well. It was just four or five guys riding, there were a lot of guys just along for the ride.”
Henao. “It was very fast, the middle of the stage because a big break went with many riders in front, twenty riders, my team worked at the front.”
Act 3: The second break
Radioshack put three riders at the front on the second group to reel in the lead group of about 40 riders which they finally did at 60 miles (90 km) into the stage. With the second sprint coming up at less than 5 km, it was perfect time for a second break to go. Three men escaped, John Anderson (Endura Racing), Mike Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-Optumhealth) and Tim Gudsell (Pure Black Racing).
Anderson. “You always hope that you might stay away but it doesn’t matter how hard you ride, if the bunch wants to catch you, they’ll ride faster. There’s a hundred of them and three of us. You sort of just play mind games with yourself I guess, and with about 20 kilometers to go, or 15 kilometers to go, they sort of held us at just about a minute. Let us hang there basically to neutralize the race, I knew it was never going to happen.”
“It was really tough with just the three of us, it felt like we had a headwind on the way out around the lake, so I had a feeling that it was going to be a tailwind back to the finish. I looked at the profile this morning, and it was a slightly downhill run so I thought maybe there was the slightest chance we might be able to come close to the line. It felt like the breeze came around and hit us in the face and of course, being hot and a long day and a couple of uphill drags close to the finish, it wasn’t to be.”
Gudsell fell off the pace first, but the break was caught with about four miles (7-km) to go by the field led by Liquigas-Cannondale and UnitedHealthcare, each trying to set up their sprinters.
Act 4: The Sprint
Van Uden. “With about 7km to go, we hit a decent rise, it was about two and half kilometers long at three percent and there were a couple of attacks going. When we hit the top of the hill, some riders thought to turn left for some reason and there was a big pileup. I was far enough back that I managed to go around, we bombed down the other side of the hill, hard right and I think someone blew a tire and there was another pileup. A lot of the teams setting up for the sprint I think lost a couple of guys, it can of ruined their chances.”
Henao was caught in one of the crashes. “A little of panic (after the crash) because I thought it was so close to the finish line but I got up quickly and I went into the group in the last three kilometers and I had time to stay in the group for the finish.”
Then Best Young Rider, Tejay Ven Garderen (HTC-Highroad) attacked solo with around 5km to go but he was reeled back in two kilometers later.
Van Uden. “When Tejay went, there was enough firepower left in the group, they thought they could reel in a guy riding off solo.”
Bauer. “We had all our boys lined up trying to set up Scott Thwaites for the sprint, an English teammate of mine who’s got a quick turn of speed on him. So with a kilometer and a half to go, Alex Wetterhall head out, myself on his wheel and all our teammates strung out behind. By the time we got to the big left-hand corner before the one kilometer mark, we already had a bit of a gap I think on everybody else. Alex with me on his wheel, we hit the corner so fast that once we came out of it, the gap was there and I stuck my nose out into the wind and went from there. It was just a matter of hitting that final bend, got a gap and stayed away.”
Van Uden finished 10th and got enough points to take over the Sprinter’s jersey. Anderson was awarded the Most Aggressive jersey. Louder took over the Best Utah Rider jersey after Tyler Wren (Jamis/Sutter Home) was caught in one of the late race crashes. Henao remains in yellow.